MINUTES OF THE COHOES PLANNING BOARD MEETING HELD ON May 5, 2008 AT 6:30 P.M. IN THE COMMON COUNCIL CHAMBERS OF CITY HALL

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:           Chairman Joseph Moloughney

                                                Vice-Chairman Clarence Badgley

                                                Mr. Edward Carboni

                                                Mr. Mark DeFruscio 

Ms. Sharon Gariepy

Jake Dumesnil

 

ALSO PRESENT:                   Ms. Melissa Ashline-Heil, Planner

                                               

CONSIDERATION OF THE MINUTES OF THE MARCH 7, 2008 MEETING

Chairman Moloughney called the meeting to order at 6:32 p.m. Chairman asked the planner to take attendance call.  Chairman Moloughney asked the Board to decide whether to approve the minutes from the April 2, 2008 meeting.  Member DeFruscio made a motion to approve the minutes of the April 2, 2008 meeting.  Member Gariepy seconded the motion, roll of call was taken and the motion passed unanimously.

 

                                                YES                 NO

Edward Carboni                    X

Joseph Moloughney               X

Clarence Badgley                   X

Mark DeFruscio                     X

Sharon Gariepy                      X

 

CONSIDERATION OF A MINOR SUBDIVISION WEST OF CASCADE STREET

Although initially confused by the request, Board members revisited the minor subdivision at the end of the meeting.  At that time, Chairman Moloughney recommended adding language to the resolution to clarify the property location and the intent of the subdivision.  Upon making the recommended changes to the language, Member DeFruscio moved to approve the minor subdivision; Vice Chairman Badgley seconded the motion.  Roll of call was taken and the motion passed.

                                                YES                 NO

Edward Carboni                    X

Joseph Moloughney               X

Clarence Badgley                   X

Mark DeFruscio                     X

Sharon Gariepy                                                          ABSTAIN

 

CONSIDERATION OF A MINOR SUBDIVISION AT 18 LARK STREET

Chairman Moloughney opened the discussion by pointing out the minor subdivision did not implicate any traffic or infrastructure changes; therefore the Board could conduct a final review of the proposal.

 

Mr. Kolakowski spoke on behalf of the minor subdivision of his property at 18 Lark Street.  The new lot dimensions would be 90’ wide, 108.89’ deep at its south side and 64’ deep at its north side.  The remaining 18 Lark Street parcel would also meet code with a width of 100’ and a depth of at least 108.89’ which deepens to 158’ at the south side.  The new property would be conveyed to the Connellys, the adult child of the Kolakowskis and her husband, who propose building a single family home which would meet all setbacks for the MFR multi family residential zoning district: 5’ front, 5’side and 20’ rear.

 

Member Gariepy moved to approve the minor subdivision; Member Carboni seconded the motion.  Roll of call was taken and the motion passed unanimously.

 

                                                YES                 NO

Edward Carboni                    X

Joseph Moloughney               X

Clarence Badgley                   X

Mark DeFruscio                     X

Sharon Gariepy                      X

 

CONSIDERATION OF SITE PLAN FOR A PARKING LOT AT 201 COLUMBIA STREET

The applicant did not attend the meeting. Chairman Moloughney indicated that the plans submitted did not comply with what the Board and applicant discussed at the last meeting and at Chairman Moloughney’s subsequent meeting with the applicant at the property.  First, the applicant agreed to provide a survey of the property.  Second he did not provide for a “no parking” sign on Columbia Street.  Instead, last meeting he insisted that no one parked on Columbia Street at the corner of Masten Ave.  However, site visits have shown that is not true. Third, the spaces closest to Columbia Street would force cars to pull onto the sidewalk when backing out.  The applicant placed markers indicating a property line on the sidewalk.  However, even if that is true parked cars and traffic cannot interfere with the pedestrian right of way.  Fourth, Cahirman Moloughney and the applicant discussed relocating on-streer parking on Masten Avenue with pull-outs along the sidewalk.  Member Carboni indicated that the number of spaces – nine - did not meet the Zoning Board variance of 10 permitted spaces.  Vice Chairman Badgley moved to table the item; Member DeFruscio seconded the motion.  Roll of call was taken and the motion passed unanimously.

 

                                                YES                 NO

Edward Carboni                    X

Joseph Moloughney               X

Clarence Badgley                   X

Mark DeFruscio                     X

Sharon Gariepy                      X

 

CONSIDERATION OF PRELIMINARY SITE PLAN REVIEW FOR APARTMENTS AT 8 SARATOGA STREET

Scott Lansing, the engineer, and Jeff Myer, the developer, presented plans for a proposed two building apartment complex at 8 Saratoga Street.  Each building would have 42 units.  Vice Chairman Badgley inquired how many floors would be in each building.  The developer indicated 1 level of parking and 3 ½ levels of living space. Member Gariepy questioned the configuration of the apartments.  The developer, Jeff Myers, indicated there would be 14 one bedroom apartments and 28 two bedroom apartments per building.  Each one bedroom unit would be about 780 square feet.  Two bedroom apartments would be 1400 square feet.   Each one bedroom tenant would have one indoor parking space whereas the two bedroom tenants would have two indoor parking spaces.

 

Each building would have 51 indoor parking spaces on the first floor.  In addition, 66 spaces would be available outdoors behind the buildings.  All parking areas would meet handicap accessibility standards.   Elevators would lead from the parking areas to all floors.

 

The developer would provide access from Saratoga Street to the parking areas.  He would also improve the existing sidewalk and retaining wall on the east and west sides of the parcel.  Then he would landscape both near the buildings and at the top and bottom of the retaining walls.

 

Member Gariepy asked what the market rate would be for the apartments.   Jeff Myers indicated the rents would range from $800-1200 per month.  Member Carboni questioned whether the apartments would mostly house adults.  Jeff Myers indicated the complex would not overwhelm the school district even though a few tenants in the two bedroom units may be single parents or couples with one child.

 

Engineer for the project, Scott Lansing, described the existing property as 125,000 square feet of vacant land next to the Old Mill End.  Its dimensions and setbacks meet code in the C-1 commercial zoning district.  The front setback of the project is 10’; maximum coverage is 58% when the maximum allowed is 60%; the greenspace is 42% when only 40% is required.

 

Topography of the land slopes gradually to the east where a retaining wall edges the property.  The developer will fill in the retaining wall along the whole eastern side of the property.  In addition, steeper slopes on the south end make it an ideal area for the proposed stormwater basin.  Gutters on the buildings and catch basins will stream water to the basin.  The stormwater basin will treat for quality and quantity.  The developer proposes using city facilities available on Saratoga Street to handle surface stormwater and provide water and treat sewage.

 

Member DeFruscio asked the engineer his plans for buffering the railroad tracks on the western boundary.  The engineer agreed to take a look at that section.  Member DeFruscio than asked how the retaining pond can work when the land is comprised of shale.  The engineer plans to excavate the south end, cutting into the slope to create the stormwater basin.

 

Member Carboni questioned whether the engineer planned a snow storage area, which Scott Lansing had not.  He also pointed out the project’s final plans required snow storage as well as lighting.  Then he asked whether the developer planned to tear down the Old Mill End building.  However, the engineer averred that the developer has no control over the Mill End.  Jeff Myers hopes that its owners will renovate the structure.

 

Member DeFruscio asked about the little building on the south side of the parcel.  The developer does  not own the six parcels on the south end on Howard Street.  Instead the NYSDOT owns several, the City owns one and the County owns one.  The parcels were purchased to widen the road.

 

Chairman Moloughney listed the following issues:

  1. add snow storage – make sure snow isn’t clogging the stormwater basin
  2. improve pedestrian access – the plans seem autocentric
  3. evaluate the need for traffic control at Pine and Saratoga Streets
  4. look at water pressure
  5. check fire hydrant pressure and make sure they are accessible at the rear entrance
  6. indicate what city facilities will be receiving stormwater from the site – if it is a combined sewer the developer will need to expand underground storage
  7. deter onstreet parking on Saratoga Street

 

The engineer replied to number two:  Although there is an emergency access door on the front of the southern most building’s inside corner, he avoided including stairs because of liability and maintenance issues.   He will consider sidewalks even though that will also create a maintenance issue. 

 

In reference to number five, the developer stated that the apartments will be sprinkled.  Chairman Moloughney agreed that may change the amount of pressure needed from the fire hydrants.

 

The engineer averred that the project does not want onstreet parking on Saratoga Street in front of the complex.  To deter onstreet parking he will formalize the sidewalk.  The developer indicated it is a state route (Route 32) so the state decides whether to deter onstreet parking.  However, he agrees he would prefer to curb onstreet parking.

 

After the discussion, Member Gariepy moved to introduce a resolution seeking SEQRA lead agency status as this is an unlisted project; Member DeFruscio seconded the motion.  A roll of call was taken and the motion passed unanimously.

 

                                                YES                 NO

Edward Carboni                    X

Joseph Moloughney               X

Clarence Badgley                   X

Mark DeFruscio                     X

Sharon Gariepy                      X

 

CONSIDERATION OF PRELIMINARY SITE PLAN REVIEW FOR JAMES STREET CONDOMINIUM PROJECT

 

Joe Bianchine of ABD Engineering presented the plans.  The project received a use variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals on April 23rd, 2008.  The use variance allows the builder to construct multi-family homes on the landlocked parcel despite its location in an R-1 residential zoning district that does not permit multi-family housing. 

 

The project features two additional structures containing four condominium units each.  The downstairs units would be 1200 square feet and the upstairs units would be 1600 square feet.  The developer would also provide basement storage space for each unit. 

 

At the end of each driveway a carriage style lamp would provide street lighting. Member DeFruscio questioned whether that would be the only source of street lighting.  The engineer confirmed that would be the only lighting – 100 watt residential style lamps.

 

The engineer chose a surface sand filter that would discharge to the stream for handling stormwater.   Only during storms would water pond.  He also drew a berm with landscaping along each building.  He would plant a lawn close to the buildings and clean up debris on the property.

 

Member DeFruscio asked whether the developer planned to install sidewalks.  The engineer indicated there would not be sidewalks.  However, each unit would have a garage and two extra spaces for parking either in the driveway or in ancillary lots.  Each unit would have a total of three parking spaces available.

 

Chairman Moloughney stated the plans require county planning board review because of the project’s proximity to the bike path.  The engineer replied that he also has updated plans from comments made by the planning board engineer, Tom McGrath.  Chairman Moloughney asked what the developer was seeking at this meeting.  The engineer requested an amended SEQR to include the two new structures on the Claflin property.

 

Chairman Moloughney then questioned the whether the developer planned to grant the City an easement to maintain the water mains.  The engineer responded that the Homeowner’s Association would maintain all utilities.  Chairman Moloughney wondered whether a master meter would be used as an incentive to repair leaks.  The engineer agreed to look into it.

 

Next Chairman Moloughney asked about the City’s ability to repair the stormwater system should it fall into disrepair.  The engineer averred that a maintenance agreement would be drawn documenting the homeowner’s association’s responsibility for maintenance of the stormwater facility and granting the City access if necessary for maintenance.  The agreement would appear as a deed restriction.

 

Chairman Moloughney also questioned the nearest catch basin for unit seven, which was located at unit six.  The engineer pointed out that roof drains will carry water to the front of unit seven.  All storm water would then flow over the surface to the catch basin at unit six.  Then Chairman Moloughney requested more information on the filtration system before the dry swale.  The engineer explained that a diversion structure would keep low flow in the sand and direct higher flow to the main detention basin.  If water ponds or surcharges, it goes to the main basin.

 

Chairman Moloughney questioned whether overflow of the dry swale would backflow into the filter.  The engineer countered that overflow would be handled either way: backflow or the diversion structure.  Chairman Moloughney mentioned maintenance, to which the engineer agreed the HA would need to watch the facility.  Chairman Moloughney pointed out that when you have a diversion structure that handles some questions of maintenance.  The engineer followed up by saying that the two catch basins along James Street handle a small water volume so water does not end up on James Street.  This volume requires a small water treatment component at this end of the property.

 

Chairman Moloughney asked how many acres of disturbance the project entailed.  The engineer answered it is less than 5 acres: 4.8.  Vice Chairman Badgley asked if any work was needed to divert stormwater into the stream by the bike path.  The engineer responded no, because natural drainage located to the right of buildings and street diverted the runoff.  Vice Chairman Badgley inquired if it would handle high volumes, but the engineer indicated the volume was restricted to 4”.

 

Member Gariepy queried whether the developer would post a performance bond to handle drainage if it was not completed as planned.  Chairman Moloughney answered that the City’s stormwater easement in the purchasers’ deeds allowed the City to place a lien against the taxable property to pay for any repairs.

 

Member Carboni asked whether the homeowner’s association would handle solid waste and snow removal.  The engineer answered that the association would handle all outdoor maintenance.  Member Gariepy inquired about the fees, but the engineer did not know the amount at this time.

 

The Board considered issuing a negative declaration on the amended SEQR which now includes the 4.8 acres of land.  Member Badgley moved to issue a negative declaration on the amended SEQR; Member DeFruscio seconded the motion.  Roll of call was taken and the motion passed unanimously.

                                                YES                 NO

Edward Carboni                    X

Joseph Moloughney               X

Clarence Badgley                   X

Mark DeFruscio                     X

Sharon Gariepy                      X

 

Next the Board considered preliminary approval of the subdivision.  Member Carboni moved to preliminarily approve the plans contingent on receiving subdivision approval of the property in question.  Member DeFruscio seconded the motion.  Roll of call was taken and the motion passed unanimously.

                                                YES                 NO

Edward Carboni                    X

Joseph Moloughney               X

Clarence Badgley                   X

Mark DeFruscio                     X

Sharon Gariepy                      X

 

CONSIDERATION OF PRELIMINARY SITE PLAN REVIEW FOR AN EXCAVATION AND FILL PROJECT AT BROOKFIELD POWER

Project Manager Ray Wingert presented the proposed project to the Board.  He stated that Brookfield Power is under a federal mandate to provide aquatic enhancements to bypass fish into the river.  The excavation of the canal and sediment fill is part of that plan.

 

At this time, water is diverted into the power canal by the school street dam.  A water fender blocks any debris.  Once in the power canal, a series of gates control the water flow until the water reaches the power house where it generates approximately 38 mega watts of power.  When the river flow exceeds flow, excess water goes over the water fall.

 

Through that process, the canal hydraulics forced settlement of sediment and loose rock in the canal.  Brookfield intends to excavate that fill – less than 4’ of sediment and loose rock - from the power canal in order to even the flow.  That is, the canal flow would then equal the generated hydraulics. 

 

The excavation would be done on dry fill because Brookfield would block the flow of water into the canal in the upper gate house.  This would only lower the water level in the power canal.  The block of water flow will not alter the canal’s composition.  

 

Brookfield will mechanically remove rock with equipment.  The first step after dewatering is workers will lay down clean fill to create a ramp.  Then trucks will remove, dry and dump the sediment.

 

The plans show three potential sites for disposition of the fill.  However, Brookfield prefers the two SHPO approved sites and has ranked these areas in order of preference:  1. the larger upper island between the river and the canal; and 2. the upper gatehouse on the western shore. The larger upper island has an embankment that created the power canal.

 

Member DeFruscio asked how much the fill will build up the island.  Ray Wingert responded that the larger upper island site starts at 138-140’ and the fill will raise it to 160’.  The embankment which creates the power canal starts at 158’, so the fill would only increase that portion 2’.  Brookfield estimates 58,000-65,000 cubic yards of fill from the excavation.  Based on that estimate Brookfield hopes it will only need the larger island.

 

Ray Wingert informed the Board that Brookfield underwent a NEPA review by FERC and a 401 water quality permit by DEC.  The 401 permit also tested the soil and found it safe.  In addition, DEC’s floodplain analysis department agrees with the results of the floodway analysis provided by Brookfield’s team.  The analysis showed no impact at only 5/400’ of variation caused by the project.  Furthermore, that variation occurs only on Brookfield property.

 

By placing the fill in phases, Brookfield can maintain stability before placing the next patch of fill. During the process, the company will use rip rap on slopes up to 100’ to prevent erosion.  Then Brookfield plans to stabilize the Type B, residential quality fill on the island by covering it with Class A seeded topsoil that will also vegetate naturally. 

 

Ray Wingert showed cross sections of the plan and how the project will protect archaeological sites by clearing within 50’ of sites.  Doing so will prevent seepage.  He showed a photo simulation of how scrub brush and trees along the canal and North Mohawk Street from Conboy Street to the Northeast Berm will be removed during the project.  The trees will grow back to the exact same appearance within 25 years.  Meanwhile, clearing the area provides a better view of the river.

 

Member Carboni asked what timeframe Brookfield planned for the project.  Ray Wingert gave a start date of September 1, 2008 – leaving the summer to obtain all the necessary federal and state approvals or permits.  Once begun, the project will only take three months.  Member DeFruscio expressed concern that it would affect the waterfall level. 

 

Brookfield received Albany County Department of Health approval on constructing an alternate supply of water to the city’s watr plant intakes.  Brookfield estimates that constructing an alternate intake from the canal will only last 2-3 days, during which time the city will rely solely on its Vliet Street reservoir.  Ray Wingert then discussed the pumping station from river to the intake has an 18” pipe along North Mohawk in the canal.  Member Carboni asked if it connects with the existing pipe.  Ray answered yes, and that the pipe charges all the time; that is when the City pumps, Brookfield pumps the wet well in between.  This system was approved by the Albany County Department of Health.

 

Chairman Moloughney asked if only soil would be deposited.  Ray Wingert agreed, remarking that the only lining is for the 50’ buffer for archaeological sites.  Chairman Moloughney countered by asking if filter fabric would clean up spillover.  Ray Wingert replied that test pits go to 50’ from the sites.  The filter fablic will represent a demarcation layer in order to recover that distance and keep the possibility of reinvestigating the sites open.

 

Chairman Moloughney referred to the SWPPP and potential disposition area 3, asking if Brookfield would use silt fencing in all areas.  Ray Wingert answered yes, but only for temporary erosion control.  In addition, disposition area three is almost off the table because it requires more erosion control.  However, the general process for erosion control is Brookfield would 1.) clear the grub then silt fence the site to minimize erosion into the river; 2.) expose only the area needed to place fill; and 3.) phase the fill placement in sections, then stabilize with seed before moving onto the next area.

 

Chairman Moloughney wondered aloud how November rainstorms would affect that much material.  Ray Wingert explained that most of the material is sandy and granular sediment.  Since that is the most vulnerable to erosion Brookfield will place that layer first.  Then workers will layer heavy rock to help hold the sediment.  A seeded layer of topsoil over these two layers will vegetate and hold the first two layers in place.

 

Chairman Moloughney asked how Brookfield will handle drainage on soil as water percolates.  Ray Wingert indicated Brookfield already planned to stringently monitor the soil. In the construction plan, Brookfield remarked that workers should let the water drain before proceeding.  Chairman Moloughney followed up by asking whether Brookfield will have a certified inspector even though it is not required until after the permit expires.  Ray Wingert agreed.  He remarked that Brookfield has stringent safety and environmental control policies to protect against the problems described by the Chairman.

 

Chairman Moloughney asked if the new license time period is forty years.  Ray Wingert answered “yes.”  Member DeFruscio questioned whether the project would reduce the falls.  Ray Wingert explained that the excavation will enable the facility to use water more efficiently, not more water.  In fact, there will be more water over the falls during typically low flow times, such as the summer.

 

Member DeFruscio moved to grant preliminary approval of the excavation and fill project contingent on the conditions mentioned during discussion; Vice Chairman Badgley seconded the motion.  Roll of call was taken and the motion passed unanimously.  Chairman Moloughney remarked that the final plan will not be approved unless it includes all of the modification necessitated by DEC’s new storm water general permit and has been reviewed by th eBoard’s engineer.

 

                                                YES                 NO

Edward Carboni                    X

Joseph Moloughney               X

Clarence Badgley                   X

Mark DeFruscio                     X

Sharon Gariepy                      X

 

CONSIDERATION OF A SECONDARY GARAGE AT 168-174 MAIN STREET

The applicant, John Coonradt Jr., sought a special use permit to construct a garage on two of his vacant lots at 168-174 Main Street.  The proposed garage dimensions are 30’ X 30’ and it would have one entrance door and one window.  The applicant wants to build the garage to store his boat, snowmobile and Harley motorcycle.

 

Member DeFruscio moved to approve the special use permit for a secondary garage at 168-174 Main Street; Member Gariepy seconded the motion.  Roll of call was taken and the motion passed unanimously.

                                                YES                 NO

Edward Carboni                    X

Joseph Moloughney               X

Clarence Badgley                   X

Mark DeFruscio                     X

Sharon Gariepy                      X

 

Member DeFruscio made a motion to adjourn at 8:15PM; Member Badgley seconded the motion.

                                                YES                 NO

Edward Carboni                    X

Joseph Moloughney               X

Clarence Badgley                   X

Mark DeFruscio                     X

Ms. Sharon Gariepy                                                   ABSENT